We are pleased to present a regular monthly series highlighting the work, expertise and enthusiasm of some of the greatest children's booksellers of New Zealand. Here's the ever-resilient Scorpio Books in Christchurch.
Two Scorpio staff members, Rachel Eadie and Cassie Welch
Dave Cameron, the owner of Scorpio in Christchurch, bought the business in the 1970s. After moving the shop into town, Dave changed the name from Pisces to his own star-sign, Scorpio.
Before the earthquakes, the shop was located in Hereford Street – the ruins of which can still be seen. Post-earthquake, Scorpio had several homes – one on Riccarton Road and the other, memorably, a container store – before settling into its ‘forever home’ back on a different part of Hereford Street. This gave them a chance to rethink their children’s area, creating a special nook which has pride of place in the front window. 'Too often [children's areas] are shoved in the back corner of a bookshop,' says store manager, Rachel Eadie.
What are you recommending this month?
So many recommendations, so many great books! To select just a few: we’re recommending Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Macmillan), a YA novel that captures an entirely new and fantastical world, inspired by Nigeria.
The Chosen Ones (Canongate) is the second volume in Scarlett Thomas's 'Worldquake' series for ages 8–12. We loved volume one, Dragon’s Green, a magical adventure story with books at its heart. What’s not to love?
Emily Gravett’s new picture book Cyril and Pat (Two Hoots/Macmillan) has just arrived. It's a gorgeous story about friendship, and we’re big fans of Gravett’s offbeat stories that have a big heart.
What new releases are you looking forward to over the next few months?
Once again, hard to narrow down, but we are really excited for Gavin Bishop’s new book, which we will be launching in October: Cook’s Cook (Gecko Press), a story about Captain Cook’s cook snd which promises to be another Bishop classic.
Puffin the Architect by Kimberly Andrews (Penguin Random House) is a unique picture book about an enterprising puffin who happens to be an architect. Wonderful detailed illustrations to explore and delight young readers.
We can’t wait for Oh Boy: A Storybook of Epic NZ Men by Stuart Lipshaw (Penguin Random House) to hit the shelves. Although very worthy, the market for books about strong female role models is currently well-covered – bring on more books about male role models!
Segueway to: The People Awards (Quarto), a non-gendered celebration of PEOPLE who have changed the world for the better.
Naturally, Jessica Townsend's Nevermoor 2 (Lothian), hopefully publishing for Christmas, is ever-present in our minds!
What do you wish was selling better?
We hope to see more interest in YA. We know that books have stiff competition for teenager attention these days, but this area has so much to offer. There are so many classy titles that speak to the human experience and are covering new and important territory. For example, Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (Penguin) is a funny, fresh read celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and being yourself and we hope more teens will it pick up.
Share a nice story you have about matching a book to a customer/reader!
It’s difficult to remember a particular experience of matching a book to a reader, as there have been so many.
There was a nine-year-old girl who came in with a reading challenge – she had to read 40 books in a year, each title with a specific brief; for instance, the first book had to be one authored by a New Zealand writer. Each Saturday for almost a year, Rachel helped her find the right book (occasionally she had to direct her to the library!).
What do you wish publishers would publish?
We’d love to see more middle-grade chapter books that speak to New Zealand experiences, current events and family activities that have a distinct Kiwi feel. Authentic, without being cliched. How about pacey adventure stories with tramping, camping, rock-climbing, water sports, fishing, etc – books that’d appeal to ALL Kiwi kids?
We’re always looking for books that appeal to boys around eight to 13, but these topics don’t have to be gender-specific, and could just as easily appeal to girls if the cover designs and characters aren’t too gendered.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Look out for our Storytime for Pre-Schoolers. Starting in August, this will be a fun, story-filled half hour on the first Friday of each month, from 10.30am to 11.00am. We’ll be reading from our favourite stories, new and classic. And a Sneak preview for 2019: Scorpio Kids' Book Club for ages eight to 12. Watch this space!
Once a month, Rachel does the Children’s Book review on RNZ Nine to Noon. Tune in (or listen online later) to hear what’s catching her eye in the children’s book world, and to hear her insights into what makes these books special.
We have knowledgeable staff who are passionate about children’s literature and are always excited about offering personal recommendations. Come in and have a conversation with us!
The BNZ Centre
120 Hereford Street
Tel: (03) 379 2882